It’s been just over a year now since my Sagan died. He was almost 19 years old, and had kidney disease, but he felt pretty good up until the last couple days of his life. I knew the end was near because he ate very little and drank lots of water, and he had become very thin. Still, even when he was old and getting sick, we did everything together, and he seemed mostly content. The last night of his life, he followed me upstairs to pick out my work clothes for the next day, and I saw something I’d never seen in him before–he hurt. He walked slowly and gingerly up the stairs instead of bounding up them ahead of me like he had a million times in the past, seemingly saying, “I know the way!” When we came downstairs to sit together and read, as we did almost every night for years, he had some trouble hopping up on the footstool. I could tell it hurt him. And I knew tomorrow would be the day to let him go. There would be no needless pain for my baby. I let him sleep on the footstool that night on his heated blanket, instead of putting him downstairs in the basement as usual.
The next morning, he was still there on his blanket, and he greeted me, and he had a little food and water. I could tell he felt lousy, but he had the good manners to use the litter box, which he never failed to do in 19 years. I called the vet and (through tears) made an appointment for later that day. It had been about 3 years since Sagan had been diagnosed with kidney disease, but for about 2-1/2 of those years, he had gone about his daily business feeling just fine, thank you. He ate prescription low-protein food, and started drinking more water, but he seemed to feel fine. He played, cuddled, purred, napped under the covers with me on Saturday afternoons, and remained very much himself. When he no longer liked the special low-protein foods, and grew thin, I said no problem. I let him eat the other cats’ food, which he liked, and decided to let him enjoy eating what he wanted. He seemed to know that he could only eat a little of it at a time.
We adopted each other when we lived in Kansas, and he is now buried in Minnesota. He saved me. He sometimes acted like a big lion, so we agreed he must be descended from the Great Lions of Africa. He had many nicknames, including Orange, Tag, Taggy, Sags, Tay-Tay, Honey, Honey Boy, the Honey-Colored Honey, and My Baby. We loved gardening together! He also loved naps and sitting in the sun.
In the photo below, you can see him sitting on the dirt in front of the hollyhocks. His orange fur was more stunning than any blossoms:
Here’s a favorite of him sniffing the silver mound, his favorite perennial, which he loved even more than wild catnip:
Here he is one winter afternoon, sleeping in the sun that streamed in the south window. This is how I remember him best in his older years:
This was my view on thousands of nights when we sat together, reading. I miss this:
I love you and miss you, Honey Boy.